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art by Melissa Mead

Uh... Guys?

Luc Reid's short stories and articles have appeared in Daily Science Fiction, Writers of the Future anthologies, Nature, Strange Horizons, Clarkesworld, The Writer, and elsewhere. He's the founder of the writers' group Codex, a 2nd dan black belt in Taekwondo, and the founder of a small local foods group, www.localsourcers.org. He blogs about writing and the psychology of habits at lucreid.com and about hope for fighting climate change at faceclimatechange.com. He's currently at work on a novel that follows a small town as it adopts real-world practices to radically fight climate change.

Dear Persons Who Have Evolved on the Earth,
Please excuse this interruption of your fascinatingly disturbed culture. We will attempt to communicate in one of your languages, but it is difficult to adapt our reference-laden, parenthetical, simplest mode of communication to your clumsy face-noises and adorable little picture-symbols.
We have selected Amalgamated American English as the language of our communication because it is the language of your revered Jerry Lewis.
We are a race of individuals1 who have been residing secretly in your2 moon for several 64s of 64-year intervals. We have been waiting for you to settle down a little before we announce ourselves, but as you have not yet done so in the history of your race, we have resigned ourselves to contacting you at this inopportune moment. We have carefully devised the following message to convey the subtlest possible shades of meaning by adopting certain of your vernacular expressions:
Uh... guys3? Do you get that you're ruining your planet4 and are totally screwed?
We believe this should be sufficient to convey our point5.
Persons6 Who Have Not Evolved on the Earth
1 Sort of. It is difficult to explain and we feel tired just imagining how to get the concept of our unity-disunity across, so we are not going to bother.
2Ha ha ha ha. We1 are just kidding.
3While we realize some of you don't identify as "guys," we are unable to navigate the politico-linguistic hell you call American English adequately to determine a better term in this context.
4Only for carbon-based life forms, but still.
5Some aspects of us, unsurprisingly, do not agree that the above is sufficient, since certainty is a sure sign of a tool species (by which we do not mean a species that uses tools).
It has come to our attention that the average temperatures on various parts of your2 planet are trending upward at an alarming8 rate, to the extent that the planet is becoming increasingly hostile toward your kind9. If this process continues, then most of you will surely die. It has been our impression that the prospect of dying tends to alarm8 your species and is generally considered undesirable, and yet we notice with fascination, horror, indigestion10, and some inappropriate amusement that you are all cruising along as though everything is fine11.
It does occur to us that if you maintain your current pattern of behavior, you are inevitably doomed, in which case you might as well continue your current pattern of behavior. At the same time, one would think12 that the idea of changing your own behavior to use some of your recent inventions, e.g., solar and wind power, as well as some of your previous behaviors, e.g., organic agriculture, local food systems, and natural building methods, to disrupt the pattern would cross your minds.
On a simplistic level we understand12 that your reactions are simply a combination of ingrained habit, entitlement, ignorance, social custom, and hopelessness. However, we have found it really impossible so far to believe you freaking people.
Please adopt one of the following approaches to resolving your situation so that you can stop plaguing us with your nonsensical behavior:
A. Get it over with and perish already.
B. Radically change your behavior and begin remediating the damage you are doing to your own planet and living environment. or
C. Provide some kind of reasonable lie we can pretend to believe until this annoying travesty has played out.
We thank you2 for your attention and now return you to your regularly scheduled self-extermination, already in progress13.
6You can probably imagine that this term is only an approximation for us7.
7See note 1.
8Except that you, apparently, are not sufficiently alarmed.
9Can you blame it?
10I think calling it "indigestion" is the best compromise for conveying the general idea without causing you to erupt half-digested material from reading our more detailed and accurate explanation.
11What is wrong with you people?
12Insofar as we are reduced to doing that kind of thing, as we generally operate at a level of direct comprehension and fulfillment that is to thinking what thinking is to flopping weakly in the dirt.
13Or didn't you notice? Oh, forget it. Just broil yourselves, see if we care. Except that your planet will be so much more boring without you crazy little things. Damn it.
The End
This story was first published on Monday, September 9th, 2013

Author Comments

I have a thing for periodically imagining myself as far out of my own perspective as possible. I try to figure out what an Algonquin man from hundreds of years ago might think if he were to ride next to me in my car, or how I would seem to my younger self, or of how a different kind of sentient creature might view the world.

This story started, of course, with the thought of what it would be like for an intelligent being who had been watching the planet for eons to realize what we were doing to the place. As to the personality and culture of the aliens themselves, I confess myself as surprised as you are.

- Luc Reid
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